Little Passports would like to wish you a wonderful start to the coming year and welcome 2013 in true international style. Sam and Sofia have traveled from Spain, Brazil, and Russia to give us a glimpse of New Year celebrations across the world. Whether you spend your New Year’s Eve home with the kids banging pots and pans at midnight or toasting champagne with your friends, you are sure to find inspiration from this little slice of the world.
This fun and easy New Year’s Eve tradition adds to the list of reasons why Sam and Sofia LOVE Spain. Family and friends gather, some inside warm homes and others in town squares, to watch the clock tower and devour doce uvas (twelve grapes). With each strike of the clock at midnight, one grape is eaten. If you successfully manage to eat all twelve grapes in beat with the twelve strikes you will have good luck for the twelve months of the coming year. A popular place in Spain for New Year’s Eve is Puerto del Sol in Madrid where the famous clock tower counts to midnight for all of the country.This fun tradition is still carried on by nearly all Spaniards!
Rio de Janeiro is the place to be for Réveillon (New Year’s Eve) in Brazil. Millions of people dressed in white gather on and around Copacabana beach to send a New Years wish to Lemanjá, the goddess of water. She is said to answer wishes on New Year’s Eve to those who send offerings of flowers and gifts to the ocean on small blue and white wooden boats. A spectacular fireworks show lights the sky for Réveillon and not a spec of sand goes untouched.
Russia: Happy Old New Year
You may have tangled yourself in lights this year decorating everything from the mantle to the tree, but stick with us and we’ll guide you through this string of Russian holidays tangle-free.
First, let’s skip December 25th and jump to December 31st. Exit Santa Claus stage left, enter Ded Moroz (Grandfather Frost) front and center. Ded Moroz arrives on New Year’s Eve with his granddaughter Sneguritchka (Snow Girl). They deliver presents to children under the Novogodnaya Yolka (New Year Tree) that is decorated with sweets and topped with a bright star. Second on the holiday list is Christmas Day, which in Russia is on January 7th. With presents and fairy tales already exchanged, Christmas Day is more focused on the religious meaning of Christmas. Last, but certainly not least, is Old New Year’s Day. You heard it right, Old New Year’s day on January 14th is not an official holiday, however, it is still widely celebrated in Russia.
The reason for this long list of holidays and differing dates is due to the difference between the Julian and Gregorian calendars. What began as an 11-minute difference grew to 13 days! By the time the 20th century rolled around and Russia adopted the widely used Gregorian calendar (what we use today) 13 days suddenly “disappeared” from their year. This is why Christmas and New Year’s Day occur 13 days later in Russia.
How can you take the 12 grapes of Spain, the ocean wishes of Brazil, and the string of Russian holidays home with you? Simple, take a little slice of all and incorporate them into your New Years Eve celebrations.
Doce Uvas- Spain: All you need for this one is 12 grapes, family and friends and a clock with 12 strong ticks! Forget about the countdown from 10. Count down the last 12 minutes of 2012 with a grape per minute.
Iemanjá- Brazil: Many of us make a New Years resolution. This year, be like the Brazilians and add a wish. What will you wish for in 2013?
More to Celebrate- Russia: If you’re not totally worn out by the holidays yet, stretch them out and teach your little traveler about the traditions in Russia. It’s interesting to learn about the Julian calendar and how it changed Christmas and New Year’s celebrations in Russia.
We are mixing up our map activities for this New Year newsletter. We think our smart little travelers can handle it. Match at least one country to each phrase below. Each phrase means “Happy New Year” in the country’s local language! (There are some tricky ones.)
1) Feliz Año Nuevo
2) Yangi Yil Bilan
3) Chúc mừng năm mới
4) Laimīgu Jauno gadu
5) Buon anno
Map Activity Answers
1) ”Feliz Año Nuevo” is “Happy New Year” in Spanish. This means you could be looking for Spain, El Salvador or even the Philippines!
2) “Yangi Yil Bilan” is what they say in Uzbekistan in central Asia.
3) ”Chúc mừng năm mới” is what you will hear in Vietnam. Stay tuned for how and when Vietnam celebrates Tet!
4) “Laimīgu Jauno gadu” is what they say in Latvia for “Happy New Year.”
5) “Buon anno” is how an Italian will wish you Happy New Year.